49ers defensive player-by-player review

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49ers defensive player-by-player review

Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio employed a philosophy similar to what he showed the previous week against the Arizona Cardinals.

But Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco was not as confused by the coverages as was Cardinals quarterback John Skelton one week earlier. Flacco completed 15 of 23 passes for just 161 yards and one touchdown. He did not throw any interceptions, and the 49ers failed to force a turnover for only the second time this season.
And after reviewing the film, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said he had no problem with the defensive approach."I thought our defense was effective with the scheme we were using," Harbaugh said.The 49ers' defense kept the ball in front of them. There were times while the Ravens converted six third downs in the second half that the 49ers missed chances to tackle a Baltimore receiver short of the sticks but failed.On Flacco's 23 pass attempts, the 49ers rushed three men on four occasions. They rushed four men 18 times. Once they brought five pass-rushers. (The 49ers also brought five on another play, and Flacco scrambled for 6 yards on a third-and-7 play.)Here is the entire defensive player-by-player review from the 49ers' 16-6 loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday:Defensive linemen
90-Isaac Sopoaga: Started at nose tackle and played nearly 30 snaps, as the 49ers went with their base defense for most of the game. . . . He had a strong game at clogging up the inside, as he was credited with six tackles. . . He helped limit the Ravens to just 2.6 yards per rushing attempt.
91-Ray McDonald: Started at left defensive end and played every defensive snap. . . He had seven tackles in the game and generally played very well. . . . Right tackle Michael Oher made a block on him that opened the hole for Ricky Williams to gain 12 yards and get into position for the final field goal - that gave the Ravens a 10-point lead late in the fourth quarter.
93-Ian Williams: Inactive (coaches' decision). (Follow on Twitter @IWilliams95
94-Justin Smith: Started at right defensive end, and recorded five tackles and one quarterback hurry. . . . Got blocked by left tackle Bryant McKinnie to open hole for Ray Rice on 10-yard gain on first drive.
95-Ricky Jean Francois: He saw limited action in the 49ers' base defense. He was not credited with any tackles. (Follow on Twitter @Freakyjean95)
96-Demarcus Dobbs: Saw limited action on special teams.Linebackers
51-Blake Costanzo: Played on all the special teams and came up with two solo tackles. (Follow on Twitter @BlakeCostanzo51)
52-Patrick Willis: Started at middle linebacker and recorded eight tackles with one for a loss and a pass broken up. . . . Closed hard to drop Rice for 1-yard gain after completion on first drive of the game. . . . Leveled Williams out of the backfield after he had already dropped ball on first drive of the game. (Follow on Twitter @PatrickWillis52)
53-NaVorro Bowman: Started at inside linebacker and tied with Willis for team-high honors with eight tackles. . . . Went high as teammate Donte Whitner went low to stop Williams for a no gain on third-and-1 in the fourth quarter to force a punt. . . . In coverage against Rice, who picked up 17 yards on a swing pass to convert a third-and-4 on the drive that ended with the field goal that gave the Ravens a 10-point lead. (Follow on Twitter @NBowman53)
54-Larry Grant: Played on special teams. (Follow on Twitter @LarryGrant54)
55-Ahmad Brooks: Started at left outside linebacker and recorded three tackles and one quarterback hurry. . . . Was in coverage against Anquan Boldin on 16-yard reception on first drive of the game. . . Diagnosed Joe Flacco's quarterback draw in second quarter and controlled right tackle Michael Oher to the point where Flacco had no options on either side of him. Flacco was dropped for no gain. . . . Got good pressure against Flacco to force incomplete pass and end Ravens' first series of the game. Ravens kicked a field goal.
56-Tavares Gooden: Played exclusively on special teams.
98-Parys Haralson: Started at right outside linebacker, and was credited with two tackles as he played on all the base downs, mostly defending Ravens run plays.
99-Aldon Smith: He played fewer than 20 plays, as he entered the game in nickel situations. . . He was credited with three tackles. . . He ran over Oher and got in Flacco's face to force a second-quarter incomplete pass to force a punt. . . . Good penetration and stacked up Flacco on QB draw at the 5-yard line in the second quarter. . . Got inside of McKinnie to stop Rice for 1-yard loss on a third-and-5 just before Ravens' final field goal. (Follow on Twitter @AldonSmithJETS)Defensive backs
20-Madieu Williams: Played exclusively on special teams. (Follow on Twitter @MadieuWilliams)
22-Carlos Rogers: Started at left cornerback, and was credited with two tackles and a pass defensed. . . He gave receiver Anquan Boldin the inside on a slant that went for 22 yards on a third-down play on opening drive of the game. . . Tight coverage on Boldin to break up third-quarter pass. . .
25-Tarell Brown: Started at right cornerback and was credited with two tackles. . . . Had deep coverage on speedster Torrey Smith. He was called for pass interference for not allowing Smith to get both arms up to go for the ball. The 50-yard pass-interference penalty nullified Brown's interception in the second quarter and led to a Ravens field goal. . . Gave Smith way too much cushion on a third-and-4, allowing Smith to catch an 11-yard pass for a first down in fourth quarter.
26-Tramaine Brock: Played on special teams. (Follow on Twitter @T26Brock)
27-C.J. Spillman: Mostly played special teams, but came in as part of the 49ers' goal-line defense. He avoided block of tight end Ed Dickson and threw Rice for a 4-yard loss on a second-and-goal from the 1. . Was called for an offside on 49ers' second kickoff of the game. . . (Follow on Twitter @CJSPILLMAN27)
29-Chris Culliver: Played as the 49ers third cornerback, and was credited with five tackles and one pass broken up. . . Broke up pass to Torrey Smith in the end zone at end of the third quarter. . . (Follow on Twitter @Cullyinthehouse)
30-Reggie Smith: Saw limited action as part of the 49ers dime package. He was not credited with any tackles. (Follow on Twitter @superreg30)
31-Donte Whitner: Started at strong safety and played every snap. . . He recorded six tackles. . . On one of the 49ers' few blitzes, he came up to stop a Flacco scramble for a 6-yard gain on third-and-7. . . Made open-field tackle of Rice for a 9-yard gain to save a touchdown at the SF 6-yard line. . . Missed tackle of Lee Evans short of the sticks that turned into a third-down conversion on the opening drive of third quarter. . . . Tight end Dennis Pitta worked in front of him to catch 8-yard touchdown from Flacco on first play of the fourth quarter. . . . Went low while Bowman went high to stop Williams on a third-and-1 play to force a punt in the fourth quarter. (Follow on Twitter @DonteWhitner)
36-Shawntae Spencer: Inactive (coaches decision).
38-Dashon Goldson: Started at free safety and recorded three tackles, but did not make any plays in the passing game. (Follow on Twitter @thehawk38)
43-Colin Jones: Played exclusively on special teams. . . .Called offside on opening kickoff to give the Ravens a 5-yard boost.Specialists
2-David Akers: Made field-goal attempts of 45 and 52 yards. He is now 6-for-6 on attempts beyond 50 yards this season. (Follow on Twitter @DavidAkers2)
4-Andy Lee: His leg was feeling good, as he averaged 57.6 yards (48.0 net) on five punts with one of his punts landing inside the 20. (Follow on Twitter @Andy4lee)
86-Brian Jennings: He handled all the long-snapping duties. (Follow on Twitter @Jennings141)

Colts fire GM Ryan Grigson after five seasons

Colts fire GM Ryan Grigson after five seasons

INDIANAPOLIS -- Ryan Grigson spent tens of millions in free agency, trying to turn the Indianapolis Colts into a Super Bowl contender.

When most of those big investments went belly up, the first-time general manager paid the price.

On Saturday, Colts owner Jim Irsay fired Grigson after five up-and-down years that ended with Indy missing the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1997-98.

"It was a tough decision, well thought out and in the end the right decision for the Colts," Irsay said.

Initially, Grigson looked like a genius.

He hit it big on his first four draft picks - quarterback Andrew Luck, tight ends Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen and receiver T.Y. Hilton - and used a series of shrewd, cost-effective moves to deliver one of the greatest turnarounds in league history.

But when Grigson's costly misfires like first-round bust Bjoern Werner in 2013, trading a first-round pick for Trent Richardson in 2014 or loading up on a group of aging, high-priced free agents to make a Super Bowl run in 2015 and an anxious fan base, Irsay had no choice.

The timing, almost three weeks after the season ended, was strange - and comes after many thought the delay meant Grigson and head coach Chuck Pagano were both safe.

Each agreed to contracts last January that was supposed to keep them together through the 2019 season.

Thirteen months later, Grigson is gone and Pagano's fate may rest in the hands of a new GM.

Grigson, by trade, was a gambler who refused to play it safe.

"I think the guys that sit on their hands, they've got to live with themselves and look in the mirror and realize they didn't take any chances," he once said. "They've got to look at themselves and say, 'Did I even deserve this opportunity?' If you just sit on your hands and say, 'I'm going to play it safe all the time,' you might be middle of the pack. But if you don't take a swing, you're never going to hit it out of the park."

Irsay appreciated Grigson's unconventional style and penchant for taking chances.

What he didn't like was the underwhelming payout.

In five seasons, Grigson made 15 trades for players and only one, Pro Bowl cornerback Vontae Davis, played in Indy's season finale. Grigson also drafted 38 players - 18 of whom finished the season with the Colts. Eleven were out of the NFL.

Then there was free agency, where Grigson signed dozens of expensive players. Only 11 were still on Indy's roster when the season ended, 18 others were out of the NFL.

With an estimated $60 million to spend in free agency this year and a chance to get the Colts righted for the prime years of Luck's career, Irsay couldn't afford to roll the dice again with Grigson so he made the change.

The 44-year-old Purdue graduate's blunt personality didn't always mesh with coach Chuck Pagano. Irsay even acknowledged last summer that the two men needed to resolve their differences before he gave them the extensions.

Players didn't always get along with him, either.

"Thank God. 'Unwarranted Arrogance' just ran into a brick wall called karma," Pro Bowl punter Pat McAfee posted on Twitter after word first leaked.

Grigson also drew the wrath of Patriots' fans by tipping off NFL officials that Tom Brady was using improperly inflated footballs during the 2015 AFC championship game. The Deflategate controversy eventually led to a four-game suspension for Brady as well as a fine and the loss draft picks for the Patriots.

And despite Irsay's repeated pleas to better protect Luck, Grigson, a former offensive lineman, never quite figured it out.

Luck missed 10 games because of injuries over the past two seasons and was sacked 41 times last season. The first real glimmer of hope appeared in December when the Colts held Minnesota and Oakland without a sack in back-to back games - the only times all season they didn't allow a sack.

When Grigson arrived, the Colts were coming off a 2-14 season and were about to release Peyton Manning and several other aging veterans in a salary cap purge.

So Grigson cleaned house.

He fired Jim Caldwell, hired Pagano and revamped the roster with low-budget free agents to work with the cornerstone of the future, Luck.

It worked. The man once dubbed by a previous boss as a "great" expansion team general manager, turned the Colts into a surprising 11-5 playoff-bound team.

Indy finished 11-5 each of the next two seasons, too, and advanced one step deeper in the playoffs each season.

The steady progression turned the Colts into a trendy Super Bowl pick in 2015, a trek that was derailed by a litany of injuries that forced the Colts to use five different quarterbacks just to finish 8-8.

Waiting for Shanahan could be a good thing for 49ers

Waiting for Shanahan could be a good thing for 49ers

The 49ers were willing to be patient in securing their next head coach.

Depending on the outcome of the Atlanta Falcons’ game Sunday against the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship game, they could be required to wait another two weeks.

The other five organizations with vacancies after the regular season have filled their head-coach positions with four assistants from teams that did not qualify for the playoffs and former Miami Dolphins defensive coordinator Vance Joseph, whom the Denver Broncos hired after his team was bounced in the AFC wild-card round.

Early in the 49ers’ search to replace Chip Kelly, the top targets appeared to be Josh McDaniels and Kyle Shanahan, the offensive coordinators for two of the top-three scoring teams in the NFL.

The coach-general manager team of McDaniels and New England Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio was the runaway favorite to be the package deal, according to sources close to the 49ers’ coaching search.

But when Caserio chose to remain as Bill Belichick’s top personnel lieutenant – just has he has in the past when other opportunities presented themselves – the job became less attractive to McDaniels, according to those sources. McDaniels announced on Monday he would remain with the Patriots for at least another year.

With McDaniels out of the picture, Shanahan became the clear favorite over Seattle assistant Tom Cable. And once Cable publicly stepped aside due to suspicions he was only being used to secure a commitment from Shanahan, only one candidate remained for the job.

Since the middle of this week, Shanahan has been the presumptive coach of the 49ers. Falcons coach Dan Quinn was the Seahawks’ defensive coordinator two years ago when he was officially hired just hours after the Super Bowl. He knows he drill. And this week he announced to the Falcons staff that Shanahan would be the next coach of the 49ers, according to the NFL Network.

Regardless of the outcome of Sunday’s game, the 49ers will be allowed to interview Shanahan next week – most likely, Tuesday in Atlanta. Shanahan will be involved in the process to hire the next general manager. Minnesota assistant general manager George Paton appears to be the favorite. The 49ers expect the general manager position to be filled early in the week.

If the Falcons lose, the 49ers would be able to hire Shanahan on their own time frame. It would not be expected to take long.

But if the Falcons win, the 49ers would have to wait until after Feb. 5, when the Super Bowl will be played in Houston, to hire Shanahan.

There is an advantage to being forced to wait. In the long term, the 49ers could benefit from their next head coach gaining the experience of a Super Bowl week and calling a game on the biggest stage in all of sports.